My first 3 months in the inclusive design team

I've been at test and trace for 3 whole months! As I've got a day off without too much to do, I've decided to put some thoughts down about how things are going.

Rebooting the inclusive design team

This week has been a tough one. Lots of new people are joining the team. I've been trying, not very successfully it feels like, to welcome them in and help them get started. Whilst at the same time trying to fit in my day-to-day job.

The good news is that we now have an excellent team of user-centred designers. They will focus on designing and delivering inclusive and accessible services. Supported by an equally excellent team of product and delivery roles.

Our team is made up of a mix of...

  • user researchers
  • content designers
  • service designers
  • accessibility specialists
  • a business analyst
  • a delivery manager
  • a product manager

I'll look back on this recruitment as one the key things we've achieved in the last 3 months. Of course with lots of support from the wider team.

Now we've got some work to do.

What's it like being a head of design?

This is my first "head of" role. It's similar to when I was a lead interaction designer at Office for National Statistics. And the responsibility of this new role, together with the red tape of the civil service can feel overwhelming.

The good news is, I'm supported by a lot of great people, including the...

  • inclusive design team
  • other heads of design
  • wider user-centred design community
  • equality and inclusion group

A big part of adjusting to the new role is about adjusting to the pace. There are lots of meetings. Lots of emails. Days are full of conversations about complex services and decisions.

And, I have to be able to tell a good story about the team. So that other teams want to work with us, and so that the team will understand the scope of what they need to do.

Software and tools

I'm getting better at Microsoft stuff too. I don't use a Mac at all in work now. I've decided to go all-in and avoid the stress of switching between the two operating systems all day long. Now that I'm used to it, it's fine.

To be honest I miss Notion, Google Drive and iA Writer. So, on reflection, it's more about the ecosystem of tools, rather than the operating system.

A big part of the job is about staying on top of conversations. Which means Outlook is my friend Work Proximity Associate. I'm often in my inbox or checking my calendar. Making sure I'm going to the right meetings and blocking time out to focus, eat or pick up my kids.

It can be tiring. But, as I mentioned earlier, it's partly about adjusting to the pace, and I think my body is slowly catching up.

Strategy, Key Performance Indicator (KPIs) and setting standards

Aside from recruiting a lot of great people into the inclusive design team, another thing I can look back on and recognise some improvement in, is my ability to think more strategically about inclusive design.

The team have been working hard on a set of measures for inclusive design and accessibility. We will use these to help embed best practice and behaviours across the different teams. The result should be that services become more inclusive and accessible. And so that our team can recognise which areas the organisation needs more support with.

These will then be collated, and combined with other indicators. Giving our team a set of KPIs that we can then use to measure our own success (or lack of). Then we'll report this to the equality and inclusion group.

Related to this, I'm working on a strategy for the inclusive design team. Having a simple strategy, in plain language, is helping me to connect the dots between 'telling a good story' and how we measure performance.

Luckily in this new job I get to work for Sophie Dennis and she's helping me get better at this stuff. I keep referring back to Sophie's talk Let’s Talk About Strategy.

Sophie's questions, captured in the slides linked in the last paragraph, help me to think about what a good strategy should tell us...

  • Where are we going?
  • What will be different when we get there?
  • Where are we now?
  • How are we going to get from here to there?
  • What might stop us and how will we overcome that?